'Souls Procedure Survey
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#1
Hi all! Recently, some discussion was had in the DCG server about the board's procedures. I decided to throw together a simple google survey for people to submit their responses to, if they're interested in this topic. The more people submit responses, the better!

This survey is intended to be completely anonymous; please of course try to be honest (but kind!) in your responses. There are around 14 questions in total, with a good portion being optional fill-in-the-blank questions.


I... honestly have no official suggestions on my end at this time, I just have a lot of curiosity about seeing what my fellow players think!
Special thanks to Songbird for 'popularizing' surveys on 'Souls, and to all the other Staff Members for all their hard work!

I will be posting the responses at the end of the survey if it gathers enough interest.

Feel free to post below with more in-depth discussion about the board's procedures if you so choose! Or, commentary on the survey.



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#2
Let me be bold and copy-paste what I entered in the survey

( But first, let me preface it by saying that I've only admiration for the team and forum members. This is, more or less, an outsider's perspective. ) ;

What changes would you make to the Additional Character procedures, if any?

Lower the post count requirements, overall. Do NOT remove character slots for inactivity. 

( Elaboration: Both are precisely what kept me from returning for over eight months, cringing at the thought of having to repeat the post-by-post grind just to pick old characters back up. )

What changes would you make to the Dropping Characters procedures, if any?

No two week wait to pick up another auxiliary character. 

( Elaboration: It seems overly restrictive. )

What changes would you make to the Puppies procedures, if any?

N/A.

What changes would you make to the Trespassing procedures, if any?

Threads between non-pack members shouldn't require the presence of a pack PC, as long as the thread was pre-approved by OOC leadership.

What changes would you make to the Creatures and Companions procedures, if any?

No complaints!

( Note: I only wish that Creatures, an obviously far less used type of character, were easier to obtain than canine ones. It feels difficult to "waste" a hard-earned slot on a Creature that will likely find it difficult to find the same involvement a canine does. )

What changes would you make to the Pack Formation procedures, if any?

N/A.
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#3
Ofc I'm not staff, but I did want to highlight a couple Tumblr answers from staff re: auxiliary slot procedures! The 'Souls Tumblr often has the answer to staff opinions and reasoning for certain procedures and rules (some of which, rules and opinions both, are outdated). It's an interesting read!

Why there's a two-week wait after drops:
Quote:One of our players’ concerns when we proposed the auxiliary slot system was that people would drop/switch characters too frequently. If a player is able to change their mind and their character every few days, it creates a lot of work for leadership and staff – as well as disrupts plots, threads, etc. The two week waiting period limits how often players can switch out characters and encourages that players put some thought into their choice, while still allowing the player freedom to swap.

Additionally, a player could technically circumvent auxiliary character rules altogether, effectively playing as many characters as they want, by swapping them every day to make posts to threads rather than finishing up a character’s threads/plots and then swapping to the new character. The waiting period is intended to discourage this as well.

Remember, it’s not that long a waiting period compared to the old system, and the new character can automatically join without requesting! ;)

Why players lose all their slots when they fall inactive:
Quote:How long can these players retain these slots? If they disappear from the board for three years, are they still allowed to come back and fill their 5+ slots? Where would we keep track of this? What reasons are “good enough” to leave and still keep their character slots? Remember that we do not make exceptions or judgments based on extenuating circumstances. We want things simple and fair across the board.

A player only needs to post once a month to maintain membership at ‘Souls, which should be simple enough in most situations (even if this means writing a dreaded phone post), if they are worried about losing all their slots. If a player is unable to do even that, then they might not be ready to pick up and post actively with multiple characters upon their return. Having slots at all is still a fairly new change and is much more flexible and lenient towards players than prior rules regarding multiple characters. :O

Both these answers allude to the Olden Days when each auxiliary character had to be requested -- that means if you dropped your third, you couldn't pick up a new third in a couple weeks; you had to re-bracket all over again!
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#4
Thanks for quoting those answers, Raze! It's good to have more context from previous years/months added to the discussion. And thank you Bees, for your response!

So far we've had 11 responses in just two hours. That's already around 20% of the entire (active) player base, and I'm sure a lot of people right now are either asleep, at work, or otherwise busy :O I'm hoping that we can reach at least a 50% response rate within a week, maybe? Then, I'll release the results and link to the results post in the original post. <:



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#5
Thank you for those additions, Raze!

Firstly, I'm saying this as a player who has too many character ideas to keep straight lol.

I don't feel that any change is necessary.

Then again, I would consider myself a long-time member. I first joined 'Souls in 2012, and I recall how restrictions were then and honestly? I didn't find them any easier. I play more character now, and more actively, 10 years later, than I ever have.
I'm not saying it's always easy and I'm definitely not failing to consider how different players may encounter issues with the procedures.
We're all adults. We all have responsibilities outside of 'Souls, as well as relationships, hardships, etc. These procedures are not put into place to punish those who have struggled for whatever personal reasons that they have, but to be fair to those who worked so hard to get what they'd earned and stuck around!

Though I can't speak for everyone and am curious as to what the results of the survey might be.
I care about what other players feel, especially new players who are interested in joining a community I've loved for over 10 years. I also appreciate the wonderful team that we have running 'Souls; there's a reason they've been around this long lol.
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#6
I just wanted to pop in a wee bit with my own perspective around procedures with activity (and, by proxy, """bracketing""")! <:

'Souls has been around a loooong time. A very long time. It's outlived many other rp forums and continues to be an engaging and fun community, I believe, in part due to it's more rigorous activity requirements and guidelines! Additional characters and the like have always been optional (and the higher number of characters you have, the higher requirement for activity you face) - and I do like a lot of the smaller quality of life fixes that have happened over the years and how the record of 'slots' has been an utter godsend, and that you won't lose them unless it's in cases of inactivity. 'Souls, like any community, is an ecosystem!

As I have observed, when players bracket for optional things like puppies or additional character slots, it feeds into this ecosystem in a great way! Not only does it boost activity on the board, but it also gives the other players (who may or may not be bracketing themselves) more things to engage with. Increased activity requirements also means that it incentivizes players to take on additional threads, potentially with players that they otherwise don't tend to thread with often, which can spark off more fun plotting come future, and also helps to foster a sense of community.

I, myself, wouldn't change anything and that's after going through the arduous, hairpulling process of getting additional slots myself - Additional characters can be fun, but they are a lot of work (as stated above, not only with getting the slot, but maintaining consistent activity and muse for them). As someone who's come on and off the site for a decade, starting from scratch can always be daunting, but that was always part of the game - in order to get more optional stuff, it required work, and in doing that work, it rewarded me not only with more characters, but with long-term friendships, more plotting opportunities, and a thriving community of talented writers.

That's not to say that things can't be re-examined and considered as 'Souls userbase continues to mature and age over time! It's just something to consider when it comes to lowering these requirements, and how it might affect the board as a whole.
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#7
(14 October 2022, 03:33 PM)Despi Wrote: I just wanted to pop in a wee bit with my own perspective around procedures with activity (and, by proxy, """bracketing""")! <:

'Souls has been around a loooong time. A very long time. It's outlived many other rp forums and continues to be an engaging and fun community, I believe, in part due to it's more rigorous activity requirements and guidelines! Additional characters and the like have always been optional (and the higher number of characters you have, the higher requirement for activity you face) - and I do like a lot of the smaller quality of life fixes that have happened over the years and how the record of 'slots' has been an utter godsend, and that you won't lose them unless it's in cases of inactivity. 'Souls, like any community, is an ecosystem!

As I have observed, when players bracket for optional things like puppies or additional character slots, it feeds into this ecosystem in a great way! Not only does it boost activity on the board, but it also gives the other players (who may or may not be bracketing themselves) more things to engage with. Increased activity requirements also means that it incentivizes players to take on additional threads, potentially with players that they otherwise don't tend to thread with often, which can spark off more fun plotting come future, and also helps to foster a sense of community.

I, myself, wouldn't change anything and that's after going through the arduous, hairpulling process of getting additional slots myself - Additional characters can be fun, but they are a lot of work (as stated above, not only with getting the slot, but maintaining consistent activity and muse for them). As someone who's come on and off the site for a decade, starting from scratch can always be daunting, but that was always part of the game - in order to get more optional stuff, it required work, and in doing that work, it rewarded me not only with more characters, but with long-term friendships, more plotting opportunities, and a thriving community of talented writers.

That's not to say that things can't be re-examined and considered as 'Souls userbase continues to mature and age over time! It's just something to consider when it comes to lowering these requirements, and how it might affect the board as a whole.

You make a lot of good points!! I was thinking about what sets 'Souls apart from other sites (because when things work, it's magical) and you might be right that its longevity is due in part to its clear and hard-lined parameters for certain aspects of gameplay. Rapidly picking up and dropping characters can really throw a wrench into long term plots and can definitely kill the momentum of other players.

What I've noticed with the additional characters process is that it does promote something like a "burnout" culture for additional characters. How many people go hard trying to bracket their 5th, 6th, 7th etc and then collapse for like 2-3 months, because they are averaging like 30+ posts every 2 weeks/60+ posts a month? It's not a sustainable process, and also delays a player from actually cultivating their new character idea/muse when it hits them, and sometimes that can lead to the idea dying when they finally can play the character. And I don't think that's a reflection of poor commitment on the player's part, I think that you can't tell a good idea from a bad idea until you start implementing it and letting it grow and making connections. Like I think "inspiration" takes root with the right conditions, which can't exist until they're on board. So delaying can be bad sometimes! So idk! I'm not sure what a better solution might be, but right now these are the aspects that aren't working for me with the current procedures.

Much to think about!!
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#8
Hi all, just wanted to give a quick bump and say today will be the last day you can respond to the survey. I will release the results tomorrow. Thank you all who participated & I look forward to hopefully continuing the discussion once everyone knows the results! Reghowl



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#9
Sorry for the wait everyone! Here we are with the:

RESULTS
We had 19 responses, which is around ~40% participation, assuming all respondents were active players.
I also included some write-in answers, but if yours wasn't featured and you'd like to share it, please feel free to either post it here or let me know over Discord.
EDIT: Originally, the results did not feature all write-ins. Now every single write-in response has been added <: (Note that Pack formation and Creatures & Companions already had all their write-ins posted originally, so no additions to those.)

Additional characters



Dropping characters



Puppies



Trespassing



Creatures and Companions



Pack formation



Wrap-up

Thank you all so much for participating! There were a lot of suggestions I hadn't even considered but would definitely vote for in an official suggestion. (Also if you spot any typos or inconsistencies in the results above, let me know :V I didn't have the energy to proofread-)

My hope is that this survey can provide useful information when making official suggestions to these procedures, and overall get a feel for how players prefer their roleplaying sites to be run (this survey could be useful when making your own site, I believe).

I don't know if I'll get around to making the most popular suggestions official suggestions any time soon, so please feel free to throw up a thread including them if you want. <:

Follow-up questions for you to answer below if you so choose:
  • Were you surprised by any of the results?
  • Were there write-in suggestions you hadn't thought of before/while responding, but now want implemented?
  • Are there any suggestions you have for future surveys?
  • Do any of these results or write-in suggestions change your mind? If so, in what way? Alternatively, do these results make you feel even more adamant in your own thoughts?



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#10
I had a quick question!

Quote:I also included some write-in answers, but if yours wasn't featured and you'd like to share it, please feel free to either post it here or let me know over Discord.

Would it be possible to share the entirety of the write-ins? :>
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#11
(22 October 2022, 01:29 PM)Gen Wrote: I had a quick question!

Quote:I also included some write-in answers, but if yours wasn't featured and you'd like to share it, please feel free to either post it here or let me know over Discord.

Would it be possible to share the entirety of the write-ins? :>

Sure Gen! Full disclaimer though, most of the ones I didn't include were ones that were repeat suggestions, simply said "n/a or none", or something to that effect. xD At least from what I can tell, although I might have missed a couple that added something new (if I did, I'll edit & add them to the original post if you find them).

Since the results are fully out now anyway, if you're comfortable with it you could send me a g-mail for you over PM or Discord and I can just make you an editor so that you can see the full-view of the results, including being able to go through the responses one by one, being able to download them in spreadsheet form, etc. (I probably won't give out this access to everyone, but I figure there's no harm in sharing it with site staff, even if your interest is only as a player)

If not, though, just let me know and I'll edit the post to include all of them.



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#12
It would be totally fine if you could just add whatever was missed! Obviously, N/A isn't helpful so not seeing that is fine ahahaha. I just love me data as a side effect of science brain -tear-
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#13
(22 October 2022, 03:48 PM)Gen Wrote: It would be totally fine if you could just add whatever was missed! Obviously, N/A isn't helpful so not seeing that is fine ahahaha. I just love me data as a side effect of science brain -tear-

Done! I did go ahead and add in the n/a/none responses just for completion's sake. Now every single write-in is included!



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#14
Popping back in here just after perusing things more with the responses (also thank you HT for adding all the replies for full scope)! <: I'd like to offer just a little more insight, just in case some things might be sorted out with a little clarification? I'll try to keep brief, but hopefully this may prove helpful.

Re: Dropping Characters
It looks like there might be general confusion as to how to drop characters? But, as far as I am aware, there is no pack-specific way to go about dropping or NPCing! To clarify:
Dropping a character is a full de-title, generally loners automatically are 'dropped' as they don't have a rank to retain.
NPCing a character puts your pack-affiliated character on aNPC status, and kinda puts them on 'Hold'! They will maintain the rank they are NPC'd at until either sent off board (This is where packs might have different procedures with 'over x amount of time we will detitle etc etc') or picked back up, but, the process of dropping or npcing a character is largely the same, the difference is just where you post/send your form.

To request drops or NPC status, this thread is the place to go. Both cases have the same form to use - either reply directly to the thread to Fully drop and de-title the character, or send your form to your pack's OOC Account for an NPC request! The form makes things infinitely easier on staff (as it puts all the threads that will need archival right there in a handy little spot), and is helpful for leaders to refer back to to see the rank being retained, whenever the character is picked back up.

As far as what happens to the slot that character was attached to when you drop them? You keep it! The only case, currently, which will cause the loss of a slot is if caught up in inactivity sweeps (Dropped characters mean that you still retain the slot), or if you leave the board in full. So if you had four characters, and dropped three, you would still have three empty slots and your 'main' character- the only restriction at that rate is having to wait in two week stints between re-filling those slots, and slots do not have expirations as far as I am aware, provided you remain an active member of 'Souls!

Re: Pack Formation
I saw a few remarks circulating confusion as to an appropriate frame of time in which players could prospectively lead a pack, which is actually answered within the first post of Pack Formation (Under "Leaders", second paragraph)
Quote:We suggest members have at least one year of membership at 'Souls prior to forming a pack.

It is a suggestion and not a hard restriction, but still provides a basis to refer back to.

As far as "No repeating themes" being revoked, or wanting expounded upon, it's always been my personal understanding that this is to encourage variety in the existing packs on 'Souls and to avoid direct copies of older, defunct (or even still existing) packs! Similar themes can always be re-visited, provided they are still expanded upon with entirely fresh cultural customs to set them apart from what has already come (and gone) in 'Souls' expansive history. For example, Vinátta was massively inspired by an Old-Norse religion and aesthetic, there's nothing stopping another pack from potentially coming along with Nordic inspiration as well, provided its culture and approach is unique enough that it is able to stand on its own merit via interpretation.

With that aside, the feedback is helpful in attempting to parse where guidelines could potentially use some rewording or clarification. I'm actually glad to see so much positive feedback referring to Loner Bands, as well~ I hope this means we might see some more ideas percolating!
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#15
First of all, disclaimer: I am speaking as a regular member here and not staff. <3

I didn't find the time to take the survey, but I would be among those respondents who are largely satisfied with our current processes/procedures. I do understand that some of them (slots, chara drops, puppies, primarily) can take a lot time and effort (believe me, I have 7 slots and have had [and been rejected for] plenty of litters over the years, so I've been through the bracketing process a time or two and, yes, it can be grueling!), but I guess I've always kind of felt as though that's the point. Going through the whole rigamarole of bracketing forces me to pause and truly consider 1) if the character or puppies I want to work towards is going to be worth the effort and 2) if I have the physical time and mental energy to go for it. If yes, then that process also gives me a goal to aim for and allows me to consider what sorts of plots and shenanigans I can get my current characters into in order to help me meet that goal. So, rather than taking away from the game or the excitement of a future character/puppies, I guess I've found the opposite to be true in my own personal experience. Yes, waiting can be annoying and all of that writing can be tiring, but hell if it ain't a damn good feeling when you finally get what you worked for!

That said, these types of discussions are good to have — there's a lot of value and importance in hearing feedback from the populace. And I feel that it's also important to remember that, as others have brought up, 'Souls has been around for a very long time (two decades!) and the game's policies, procedures, and processes have evolved over that timeframe for very good reasons but none of them are meant to stymie creativity or drive players to burnout. <3 Rather, imo, I see them as a means to drive greater character development and more thoughtful, engaging plots.

Granted, I'm also the type of person who gets easily overwhelmed by too many choices/possibilities and having fewer characters helps mitigate that (which is why only 4 of my 7 slots are filled lol how did i ever do it and how do all of you out there with your 7+ active characters do it even???)

Anyway! The only other thing I'll add is that hearing more constructive ideas/thoughts about potential solutions from those who feel negatively about the current processes would be wonderful, particularly when taking into consideration why/how things evolved to the way they are now. Thanks for putting this together and compiling everything, Hydra Triangle!
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#16
I have to largely agree with Mandi and Despi's point made before. To answer the last question, no: my opinion has not changed.

Having to work for slots elicits incentive. Hell, if I was left unchallenged, I'd have too many characters to keep track of, so it a good thing! While bracketing can be challenging, it's well worth it in the end if your character concept really means that much to you. Chances are, if your experiencing burnout bracketing for a character, you're likely to experience burnout from having another characters to keep track of! At least, that's what I've experienced!

I think the puppy points system also works well to keep a flood of discarded character ideas from floating around and not having the chance to be played. It also, like bracketing for slots, helps really pin down what sort of ideas your contemplating as far as visual design, names, possible adoptable, etc. If you are passionate about it, it's all the more rewarding to get what you worked for.

As far as dropping characters go, it's far easier than it's been in the past. Absolutely I'd change nothing about it lol. I've been a member here for 10 years (with a break oops) and I remember having to start over all from scratch if you dropped a character you didn't have the motivation for anymore! Now, you can drop a character when you can't play them for whatever reason, keep the slot, and either pick them back up when you're ready, or try with a new one without having to bracket again! It's more than fair.

I think the rules regarding trespassing are also fair. Even with pack leader permission, it does seem strange to just have an outside character meandering without a pack member having some sort of issue with it? It's not realistic.

As for NPCs, I think one cNPC is fair. Having more seems like a way to work around bracketing, even with cNPC limitations. Perhaps if you need the writing opportunities, you could refer to pack NPCs, or board NPCs! Some are involved in neat plots or give out quests that can help motivate writing for a character.
Non-canine NPCs don't have a hard limit and are required to be realistic. For example, if the hard limit was set to 3, is it fair that one character has 3 chickens but another character has 3 horses? It also seems unreasonable for one character to have 3 large creatures. On the same note, it's not realistic to have 15 cats. But where do you draw the line? Like a few things mentioned in write-in responses, this could always just be cleared up by contacting 'SA and asking them to clear up any confusions.

I don't have much experience with pack formation, but I will also hype up Loner Bands! Though I haven't made one up myself, it's nice that the chance is there and it is tempting.

I feel discussion like this is important, especially as we see new generations of players joining us crusty players ;) But 'Souls has also been around for an impressive amount of time for a RP forum. It's active, it's inviting, and the policies in play keep things organized and streamlined. Asking for too many changes may put more work onto people who are already very busy as 'Souls staff as well.
Staff also has a lot of their plate, managing a site as volunteers. Honestly, from my RL position as a store manager, I applaud and appreciate everything staff does for us players!!

I love 'Souls and the community, and I plan on sticking around for as long as it'll have me. I'm just glad to have 'Souls as it is!
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#17
Thank you for the clarification Despi, and thank you for your response Mandi & Pabs <3 I really appreciate all of you participating in this discussion. If anything, it's nice just to get to talk to fellow players about our favorite site x3

I think I'm gonna... ATTEMPT... to tackle the most popular suggestions and give some of my thoughts now. I'm going to try to just tackle Additional characters in this post, because it was the one that respondents chose as the procedure they'd like changed the most, and from the posts in this thread so far it's my understanding that it's kind of the 'hot topic', at least right now. But! I definitely have thoughts on the other suggestions, I just. Need to get to them one at a time or else this post will take a gazillion years to read. xD

Quote:Additional Characters Most Popular Suggestions:
  • Lowering the overall post count required per bracket
  • Lowering the amount of weeks brackets are tracked
I need to make a disclaimer that I actually don't know much about how additional character procedures have evolved overtime. Roughly, other players that have been more involved than I over the years (I've been here a while, but always more of a lurker until recently) told me that they were strict, then lax, then made stricter again but not as strict as originally, which is what we have now. If this is inaccurate, please let me know because my memory can be faulty!

Alright... So, I'm currently bracketing for a third as some of you already know.

Since I am kind of a case study in this way, I will go into my background briefly: I am an old player, but in terms of activity, I have always been not-so-great: for a lot of reasons, but I believe this has been primarily due to ADHD, which is obviously not something everyone struggles with (though I know we have quite a few players besides me that do).
Part of the reason why I have been able to truly start getting passionate about 'Souls this time around is because I got medication for my ADHD. Now that I have that, I find posting & keeping in touch with the community much easier than ever before.

With that brief backstory out of the way, here are the things I find most positive about the bracketing system.
  • 01. It is, to my understanding, at least partially automated by way of the Request Checker programming. This is a huge plus because it takes workload off of staff.

    02. It can be a fun challenge: pushing yourself to write [x] amount of words per day similar to SoSuWriMo or NaNoWriMo. As Mandi and other respondents have said, it feels really good when you finally achieve what you've been working towards for a while. That feeling of satisfaction can't be understated, it's really awesome!

    03. You have a chance to think about if you really want to play a character/concept or if it was just a whim. In games with extremely lax additional character procedures, characters often get dropped a lot more frequently because of the lack of this.

Here are the things I find most negative about the bracketing system.
  • 01. Burn-out. This is a complaint that has been made before, and I think it comes with the nature of it being a challenge. NaNoWriMo and SoSuWriMo are great, but what do we always see when these challenges come to a close? People slow down and some refuse to write another sentence for a good amount of time.I think this wouldn't necessarily be a problem if it weren't for one thing: there is a clear advantage to bracketing back to back. I think this one fact contributes so much to burn-out from bracketing because 'if you can just push yourself for three more brackets, you could get another slot.' Unfortunately, I have no clear suggestion on how to change bracketing to stop bracketing back-to-back from being so advantageous. On the one hand, I understand that it is player choice. On the other hand, we're all human and we all want the path of least resistance so I don't think the fault really lines with the players and more with the system in this instance.

    02. The amount of words you have to write per day ramps up too quickly in my opinion. There should be a natural difficulty curve because we really don't just anyone walking around with ten characters unless they really can handle it. However, I feel that the current difficulty curve increases too drastically. For a fourth slot, to have consistently 'Good' brackets, it is my understanding you'll be wanting to write ~1,000 words a day: this is typically what a novelist (!!) writes in a day, not a hobbyist. (Again, feel free to correct me here.) And again, there's that challenge aspect to it again that is fun, but I do think that at least the third and fourth slots should be easier to obtain. Especially since we have four packs right now, and I (and I'm sure other players too) would really like to have an active character in each.

My conclusion: Overall, I would like at least one of the popular suggestions to be implemented. I understand that if both were implemented, there may be a worry of it becoming too easy once again. I want to respect that we do have a good majority of players (the results were split pretty half and half!) that enjoy bracketing as it is, and enjoy the challenge from it. That's why I propose that of the two suggestions, we might want to look into officially suggesting lowering the amount of weeks brackets are tracked. I noticed that puppy procedures rarely had complaints about its bracketing: perhaps this is part due to the fact that it is one fewer bracket (to my knowledge)?

So that's the question I pose to those of you that want no changes to Additional character bracketing: would you deeply oppose it being, say, 3 brackets as opposed to 4? This way, the challenge would still be the same, but for a shorter amount of time.

Right now, my current goal is try to find some sort of compromise for these results: I do think that the fact that we have a good chunk of the respondents saying their experience is mostly negative for this particular procedure is well... concerning! But I also understand that it is hard to really get fired up about changing things and finding compromise because people who have negative experiences tend to like to keep it to themselves, usually out of fear of being rude or similar, or perhaps just fear of rejection. That's a big part of why I made this survey to be anonymous: I figured it would be the best way to hear from these players that might otherwise stay silent. So, while I'm obviously bias in my own way, I hope that my input can be helpful in this manner <:



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#18
Note that this is not me replying “as staff” but, rather, a fellow player with experience and knowledge into some of these things.

Thank you, Hydra Triangle, for posting the results. The frustration from a few players is easy to see in some of the Write-ins, and, I know on the DCG server, there was a bit of talk of players (or at least newer players) wanting to know the “why” things are the way that they are, as, to them, alot of these procedures didn’t make any sense, and things just seem unnecessarily restrictive and overly complicated as a result. That’s what my main focus with this reply is; so that it doesn’t feel like y’all are just shouting your irritation out into the dark. I’m not trying or looking to argue or challenge the results or the procedures. I’m merely trying to explain the “why” so it, hopefully, doesn’t feel so one-sided for some of y’all.


Re: Additional Characters & Slots
  • Bracketing for Additional Character Slots:
    Don’t overstress with going after the high numbers. — You don’t need to kill yourself and burn yourself out with making, say, 10+ posts per 2-week bracket if you’re just aiming for a new character slot. As a reminder, the “Average” bracket rating starts at 7+ posts per 2-week bracket. The less characters you have, the more we expect for activity per character bracket. The more characters you have, obviously, we see that, so, there is a bit more leniency (which, some of you may see the Request Checker notate when you have 5+ characters) within reason, of course.

    We don’t expect perfection, but we do expect a reasonable effort. — If you only have 2 characters, and can only make 3 posts per 2-week bracket, you’re only making 6 posts for an entire month on that one character, 12 total posts across only 2 characters. That’s hardly enough—in my opinion—to be considered active enough to add a third to that mix. On the other hand, if you have 8 characters, and make only, say, 5 posts per 2-week bracket, we’re more likely to be lenient because, “Well, that’s EIGHT characters they’re posting on. 5x8=40 total posts per two weeks, which is more than what some players get in an entire month across just 2 characters.”

    Reassess if you have to. — If muse is an issue, drop the character that is draining you, wait 2 weeks, join with the one you were “bracketing” for, and start over. It may suck, but, if you have better muse posting on Wolf and Coyote than you do with Wolf and Dog, common sense would be to drop Dog, and use Wolf and Coyote to bracket for Dog vs. struggling with Wolf and Dog for 8 weeks.

    If it’s RL limitations, unfortunate as it may be, maybe it’s best to consider that, “Maybe right now is just not a good time.” You can always play characters in LASKY too if you just want to satisfy a creative itch.

    Planning for brackets. — To make it simple, the only true “planning” that needs to be done when bracketing is just making sure your posts don’t fall on the first and last days of your 2-week bracket. If posts never fall on those days, you take out all the guess and worry-work of “Hnnng, I’m not sure if this bracket will look as good as it does when I go to request.”

    Use the tools given to you. — ‘SA has given access to the Request Checker so that you can check your own progress. Previously, this was not made public, and you just had to hope against hope that what you’d planned was what actually showed as your results of 8-weeks of “bracket hell,” as we all lovingly call it xD So! Make use of the tool! If you want to make sure your brackets are looking like you want them to, check on the first/last week of your current bracket to check how your progress looks. Don’t like how they look? Shift what days you check to see how the numbers fall and adjust accordingly.

  • Character Slots:
    I will preface and say that this is mostly speaking as if you have 2+ characters, as, if you only have 1 character and you drop, you have to start over.

    Be grateful that is what is and not what it was. — A lot of the “veteran” players on here, I’m sure, will agree that, character slots now are a godsend compared to what they were a few years back. Previously, when you dropped/aNPC’d a character? You lost that slot. If you had 3 characters, and you dropped one? You now have to re-bracket to open up that 3rd slot again. It’s not like that now. If you drop/aNPC a character, you still maintain your slot, you just have to wait 2-weeks to refill the slot with a new pick up. You will ALWAYS have that slot now unless you mess up and fall inactive.

    We’re a forum, and, in an effort to remain active and “alive,” we need to have standards to keep us from just going stagnant and appearing “inactive” to new/hopeful players that pass through here. — ‘Souls gives you plenty of opportunities to keep your slot. We allow you to have 4 weeks (a whole month) of inactivity before we send out an Activity Warning, and then give you 7 days to post-by after we send out that Activity Warning notice. There may be outside factors that prevented you from posting for that entire time, and there may not have been. In an effort to remain fair and unbiased, whatever the reason why you didn’t post, it’s irrelevant to the system. A player could claim that they were in the hospital, but, we have no way to verify that. And, then, at what point is one excuse more acceptable than another?

    Why you lose all of your slots when all of your active characters fall inactive — When you lose your slots because you left the forum, we remove them from our record keeping system. Staff isn’t interested in keeping tally of who has what slots forever. If you leave the forum, who is to say if or when you will return? Players come and go from ‘Souls all the time. We’re not going to hold on to records for a player that’s been gone for 5+ years and we haven’t seen since.

    Why allow players to lose their slots at all? Personally, to me, there are easy ways to “save” yourself for this to be a non-issue. The only time you’ll lose your slot anyways is due to inactivity after an entire month, and you then not posting after we’ve sent out the Activity Warning notice (which gives you 7 days to post by).

    Don’t be afraid to drop/aNPC your characters. It’s not complicated, I promise. — If you feel that you can’t be active on your character or can’t post in time before the Activity Sweep deadline, drop them. The form takes maybe 10 seconds to fill out and post, and your slot is safe until you’re ready to use it again. That’s the extent of the process that most of you ever need to worry about at board-level.

    In a pack and you want your character aNPC’d instead? Fill out the form and send them a PM. The form notates when you submitted the request to drop, so, regardless of when Pack Leadership gets around to posting it, your “drop” will be processed as if you dropped it from that date. So, say, you sent in your application to aNPC a character on Oct 20th. Leadership posts the filled out form on Oct 29th. Staff will see that your form states that you technically “dropped” the character on the 20th, and your 2-week wait starts from there instead of when Leadership finally posted it. Anything else regarding if you lose co-ranks, demotions, get removed from the forum, etc. is something decided by Pack Leadership, and those procedures can be different from pack to pack.

    Which leads me to, please don’t feel like you HAVE to keep a character active just to keep them active. If you drop a character, and you realize afterwards that, “Hey, actually, that was a mistake to drop them,” all you have to do is wait for the 2-week wait period to be over to pick up that character again.

    Why the 2-week wait? Personally, I think it helps prevent players from just dropping characters on a whim and switching, which can lead to frustration from Staff, Pack Leadership, and fellow Players alike :(

    Staff because of the work to re-add/remove permissions, re-add/remove from our records, etc. Constantly having to edit these fields can lead to errors, which can actually end up hurting y’all!

    Pack Leadership because of the work of re-add/remove from the Rank Table, character directory, residency claims for some packs, having to take into account of re-joins at Activity Checks (and prevent a promotion) and/or post counts numbers that might have otherwise led to a demotion, etc.

    Fellow Players because of plots and threads. It’s pretty disruptive if you have something going, and your partner keeps jumping in and out. The plot is on, the plot is off, etc. etc.

    Why 8-weeks of brackets for a character slot? Why not less? To put it simply, because you’ll keep the slots forever. The only way you lose them is if you mess up and don’t post within a 4-week period. Previously, slot brackets used to be 6-weeks’ worth of posts, however, that was also when you constantly had to re-earn your slots.

    8 weeks is 2 months’ worth of posting. We have some players that may be super stars and make 40+ in one month, and then suddenly drop to only 1-2 posts the next month and every month after. Look at SSWM, for example. The entire forum is usually dead from February-March. Personally, I feel that the 8-week time frame, while it does, indeed, feel like forever, is a better judge of overall activity than a player who simply sprees for an entire month and then just flatlines. The 8-week bracket period, to me, prevents players from just doing super-good-activity-one-month –> dead-the-next –> super-good-activity-one-month –> dead-the-next.

  • Requirements for unlocking the Secondary Character Slot:
    Personally, I would think the 4-week wait period needed to open a secondary character slot is fine. That wait period allows Staff, Pack Leadership, and fellow Players to see how a newbie is, as well as allows a new player to really absorb their new environment and make sure they’re “playing the game right.” For return players, it’s much of the same. People change, people grow, people are, sometimes, not how they used to be, and people can forget how things used to be. So, it’s kind of just like allowing returning players to get back into the feel of things, and, for their fellow players to warm back up to them again.

    The only thing I could think of possibly asking for might be to lower the Post Count requirement to 30 posts (so, basically 1 post per day for an entire month) instead of 45 posts. However, that’s just my personal opinion, and not something I’m neither actually here nor there over.

    What about when I realize I want to play a different character instead? Why must I start all over again if I’ve been active up until that point? — Personally, I think it just boils down to the ways this could be abused. With only having one character to begin with, you can technically drop and rejoin as many times as you want without any consequences (other than those that require consecutive months of membership, like puppy points). And, if you really wanted to be an absolute asshole, presently, you could “switch” characters every day or however much you want to technically play “2 characters at once.” Following this type of theory, that’s also why the “just make them wait 2 weeks” would also not work, because it follows the same idea. It’d be easily abused.

    So, just have a little patience, y’all <333 I know it can be exciting and y’all can be anxious to want a new character or idea to play as. A lot of things are put in place for a reason. Most RPG forums last for 2 months-1 year before dying. ‘Souls is coming up on 21 years of being an active RPG site.

====

Re: Puppies
  • Why the 6-week bracket?
    Personally, I feel it helps slow down players from just pumping out litters left and right because you have to decide if you actually want to commit to that. 6 weeks is only a little over a month, which, to me, doesn’t feel like a huge thing to ask. For that entire time period, you could write so much IC content building up to the half-way point of the pregnancy. As well, you could also use that time to just be active and RP with your fellow writers in general. Break the month up into 2-week sections, assign a number of posts per week for the number of puppy points that you’re aiming towards, easy. Continue that into the last 2-week bracket, and it could even help you with things for the following month depending how your brackets fall. When bracketing for puppies too, you’re only focusing on that one character (unless you just want to be a glutton for punishment and be bracketing for a slot at the same time :p), so, keep that in mind too from our standpoint.

  • Again, you don’t have to aim for the high numbers each and every time.
    I don’t see a need to lower the counts when they’re pretty easy? I think a lot of players get intimidated by the checker as a whole. But, honestly? What you want to focus on is your rating per bracket.

    If you have a “Yes to character, 2 puppy points.” and you have Inactive or Dismal in any one of your brackets, expect to be denied. Depending on how many points you’re aiming to spend, you should aim for the higher bracket ratings accordingly. Want to just spend one point? Aim for more towards Average/7+ posts. You want to spend all three points? Aim higher! Want to spend two points? Try getting somewhere in the middle of the two.

    I’ll admit that the first, multi-paragraph Write-In reply is mine. A lot of other wolf and animal RPG sites are regularly flooded with unwanted, unplayed, constantly-forgotten-and-swept-under-the-rug babies when there aren’t regulations in place. Even ‘Souls as a lot of unplayed litters. So, to me, the Puppy procedures is a good thing in an effort to not have the forum constantly flooded and having Staff and Pack Leadership constantly have to clean up things on the back end/in their packs.

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Re: Trespassing
I’d just like to point out that the rules are there to stop assholes from wrecking shit in your pack without your consent (and getting away with it) xD It removes an unnecessary and preventable disaster for Staff, Pack Leadership, and Players alike.

Most packs have their own additional rules anyways, which must also be adhered to ;O

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Re: Creatures & Companions
  • Creatures
    This is written in mind that our “Creatures” category refers to played non-Luperci animals.

    Creatures have always been an optional format for playing on ‘Souls, and should never be, in my opinion, pushed to become more popular. If you want to play a cat, you can play a cat. If you want more played cats, go to a Warriors RPG forum where cats are their focus. I wouldn’t expect a human RPG to have more dogs being played than human characters, after all. It’s the same on ‘Souls, where Luperci is its intended, played character type.

    As well, there is nothing to stop players from choosing what type of “Creature” they play as other than realism on how they got to ‘Souls if they’re not a local animal, and, in turn, their likelihood to survive ‘Souls once here. Obviously, other considerations would have to be considered too. A Low-Speech animal might not be as fun to play and maintain muse for than, say, a fox, which has natural High-Speech capabilities.

  • Non-Luperci NPCs in General
    The current restrictions on “exotics,” is, unfortunately, a consequence of there previously being no/very lax restrictions Dx ‘Souls is a semi-realistic RPG, we understand, but, that doesn’t mean we should be a wild west for anything and everything a player wants for a companion just to have that “wow” factor or “unique” mount, etc. There are plenty of underutilized, local/native animals that are ignored or waved aside for the more "exotic" types ;___;

  • Additional cNPCs:
    I'll admit that I'd like to be able to have 2 cNPCs for plot and character building purposes, but, with so many players already having issues with not noting those, keeping track of those, and abusing cNPCs as it is, that ruins any chance of that happening ;O;

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Re: Pack Formation
Despi covered the remark about repeated themes well enough, in my opinion.

So, I don't think there's much more explaining for the "whys" to do on this one! I think a lot of players realize that leading a pack and running one is a pretty taxing job, and is a pretty heavy addition of responsibilities to invest in when this is all just a hobby in the end.

Loner Bands are a definite way to go for building up to a pack! You can test out ideas and plots, see how y'all mesh as a player base, and grow the interest in your group. If it all works out, y'all can go to the next level! Loner Bands takes away the stress of many things that Pack Leaders have to worry about, which can make it less intimidating as you gradually ease into forming a legitimate pack.
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#19
Thanks Songbird! The more information and clarification we have from older players the better IMO.

Since I'm still taking it one topic at a time, I'll give my own thoughts on your clarifications regarding Additional Character slots.

Quote:Use the tools given to you.

I am going to be honest. I nearly NEVER use the checker because of this text on the page: "Use this tool sparingly. Abuse may lead to revocation of usage for the general public."

I don't know if it is just me overthinking, but I always feel like if I use the tool more than once a month, I'm going to get it revoked for the entire player base. xD Some further clarification or some re-wording of that might make me more likely to use the tools given to me as it were. I don't really know what this note means by 'abuse' and if using it more than every once in a while counts as that.

Quote:Be grateful that is what is and not what it was.

I understand the feelings behind this. However, I do think that I'm not alone in saying that these words are actually rarely a comfort to newer players (or old players like me just getting more passionate about the site) that are struggling with bracketing. Because, it feels like, under these current procedures veteran players who already have all the slots they want have it the easiest. They put in a lot of effort to get their slots, and now as long as they make one post a month on each character they can keep them forever. I mean, yeah, that IS great and easy, and they deserve it after the hard work! And I know perhaps those who haven't had to bracket for a while may remember more the good parts of it than the bad because that's just how memory works. But I do believe that reasoning like this can actually lead players to feel more frustrated, not less, especially if they are already struggling.

And that leads me into this point...

Quote:Why 8-weeks of brackets for a character slot? Why not less? To put it simply, because you’ll keep the slots forever. The only way you lose them is if you mess up and don’t post within a 4-week period. Previously, slot brackets used to be 6-weeks’ worth of posts, however, that was also when you constantly had to re-earn your slots.

I think this is also why a statement of "it used to be a lot harder!" falls flat for me personally. I know this may sound crazy to those thinking the new system is much easier, but this old system actually is more appealing to me than the current one.  I'd actually rather lose my slot whenever I was dropping a character, if it meant I only have to do 6-weeks worth of posts to regain it instead of 8. I guess my only question would be if this counted Character Deaths as a 'Drop'? If it didn't, I would prefer this system over the current one. I know that to veteran players that this might seem like a "the grass is always greener" scenario, and that may be true. But that's my two cents. And I definitely don't claim to speak for everyone who has had a negative experience with additional character slots, I am sure they have vastly different opinions from me considering that it seems quite a few people would like it if slots stayed forever AND additional character bracketing was easier ;o;

Still, overall, Songbird, you provided very good information and advice for Additional Character slots.

And I hope that my comments don't come across as arguing or thinking the site is poorly managed - far from it, it's one of the best moderated out there because of moderators like you. But of course, as many of you have said, having these discussions is important xP I just also struggle with worrying that I'll come off as ungrateful or rude, so I want to make sure I clarify that's not my intention :O



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#20
(22 October 2022, 11:03 PM)Hydra Triangle Wrote:
Quote:Use the tools given to you.

I am going to be honest. I nearly NEVER use the checker because of this text on the page: "Use this tool sparingly. Abuse may lead to revocation of usage for the general public."

I don't know if it is just me overthinking, but I always feel like if I use the tool more than once a month, I'm going to get it revoked for the entire player base. xD Some further clarification or some re-wording of that might make me more likely to use the tools given to me as it were. I don't really know what this note means by 'abuse' and if using it more than every once in a while counts as that.

With this one, I think 'SA mostly meant it as, if 10 of us are playing with this Checker at the same time, doing constant checks back to back, then it might be an issue? (and that statement was also probably meant to prevent malicious assholes from just constantly spamming the checker and slowing down the site xD)

'SA would have to clarify on that though or change the language of the checker's usage warning.

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(22 October 2022, 11:03 PM)Hydra Triangle Wrote:
Quote:Be grateful that is what is and not what it was.

I understand the feelings behind this. However, I do think that I'm not alone in saying that these words are actually rarely a comfort to newer players (or old players like me just getting more passionate about the site) that are struggling with bracketing. Because, it feels like, under these current procedures veteran players who already have all the slots they want have it the easiest. They put in a lot of effort to get their slots, and now as long as they make one post a month on each character they can keep them forever. I mean, yeah, that IS great and easy, and they deserve it after the hard work! And I know perhaps those who haven't had to bracket for a while may remember more the good parts of it than the bad because that's just how memory works. But I do believe that reasoning like this can actually lead players to feel more frustrated, not less, especially if they are already struggling.

"Veteran" players earned their slots on this system just as any new player is required to. It may seem "easy" because they already have those slots unlocked, but they every bit worked for those slots through bracketing at one point in time. The bracket ratings have not changed in the past 5 years. If they were different before that, it's pretty irrelevant now? That's half a decade ago.

The "Average / 7+ posts" rating and all similar ratings for brackets are the same now as they were 5 years ago. If a "veteran" has 5 slots, for example, unlocked presently, depending on their joining/rejoin date, they likely did the same amount of posts as is expected of new/returning players now. In the past, we (as in non-staff) didn't have tools like the Request Checker either, so our brackets really were shots in the dark each time. With the availability of the Request Checker to players now, you can have a good gauge on how your requests will look before you ever request. So, if you see that your brackets aren't good, you can adjust accordingly re: your posts per week, the day you request, etc.

For new / returning players, it may feel like a struggle and "unfair," but, it's just because y'all are still at the beginning stage of it. The "veteran" players have basically "been there and done that."

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(22 October 2022, 11:03 PM)Hydra Triangle Wrote: And that leads me into this point...

Quote:Why 8-weeks of brackets for a character slot? Why not less? To put it simply, because you’ll keep the slots forever. The only way you lose them is if you mess up and don’t post within a 4-week period. Previously, slot brackets used to be 6-weeks’ worth of posts, however, that was also when you constantly had to re-earn your slots.

I think this is also why a statement of "it used to be a lot harder!" falls flat for me personally. I know this may sound crazy to those thinking the new system is much easier, but this old system actually is more appealing to me than the current one.  I'd actually rather lose my slot whenever I was dropping a character, if it meant I only have to do 6-weeks worth of posts to regain it instead of 8. I guess my only question would be if this counted Character Deaths as a 'Drop'? If it didn't, I would prefer this system over the current one. I know that to veteran players that this might seem like a "the grass is always greener" scenario, and that may be true. But that's my two cents. And I definitely don't claim to speak for everyone who has had a negative experience with additional character slots, I am sure they have vastly different opinions from me considering that it seems quite a few people would like it if slots stayed forever AND additional character bracketing was easier ;o;

Personally, I don't think asking 2 additional weeks (8-weeks total) for a character slot is that much harder to ask for when they're "forever" slots, and I never have to re-bracket for that slot again. 2 additional weeks one time beats the hell out of 6-weeks every time.

Just to be clear (in case people are confused by this term I keep/kept using), "dropping" a character is when the character is completely removed from play/active status. Dropping a character, obviously, counts as a "drop." aNPCing a character counts as a "drop." Making your character "DEAD" counts as a "drop." Losing the character in an activity sweep counts as a "drop" and loss of that character slot at the same time.

Personally, I like the new system vs. the old, as I hated having to re-earn a character slot when I already proved I could play, say, 4 characters easily. Why do I need to re-prove that I can maintain that activity when the only reason why I lost my slot was because I wanted to change out a character? Presently, I can just switch out characters with only a 2-week delay because my slot never goes away. I'd rather pay that extra 2-weeks one time, and never have to re-bracket for a slot I already earned again, than to have to constantly do a 6-week bracket stint when I decide that, "y'know, I just really don't vibe with this character. I want to play a different one instead."

====

And, nah, you're good, Hydra Triangle. There's no harm in questioning or working through the "why" of things, nor is there harm in proposing possibly different ways to go about things or even just a different view of a current thing. If we shut down every person who spoke up and questioned things, we wouldn't be the community that we are today, and certainly wouldn't have the playerbase that we do. <333
  Reply
#21
Fair enough, Song. <: I think I've said all I want to on additional character slots, so I'll pop back in with thoughts on other procedures in the future, but for now I'll let whoever else wants to post next take the stage xD.

I think that one of us said this in the DCG server at one point, but while we do sometimes complain, we recognized that pretty much everyone does & that, like has been stated, are reasons why things are the way they are. And to be fair, not losing slots as things are now is a pretty sweet deal in the end once you ARE at the point that you have all that you want. I'm just, as is obvious, not there yet!

Honestly, to me, the Additional characters procedure, from my understanding of it now, kind of just feels like taking really nasty medicine. It, to me, does suck at first, but there is a promise at the end that you'll be better off for it. I do still kind of wish the procedures were easier on newer players, but I also understand why they were changed in the way they were to become 'easier' or, more specifically, more 'rewarding' as you go along. It is nice to reward members for sticking around. I just can't help but wonder if the difficulty of it sometimes keeps newer or returning members FROM sticking around, y'know? But it's hard to get a read on why previous players may have left the site unless they outright say it. I can't help but wonder if this is the best middle-ground we can get so to speak; of course you can't please everyone, but it's not a bad thing to try to please all the players we can.

The past posts have had a lot of value to me. With these clarifications and context, it may be easier to form newer, better suggestions: as Mandi said, it would be good if we could make suggestions taking further into consideration why things are the way they are now. Regthinking



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#22
Lots of great discussion here! And, in the interest of not repeating some of the more popular points ad nauseam, I'll just add in some thoughts I had specifically regarding additional characters/slots —

re: Bracketing Hell
Yeah. This sure is a thing. I don't think it's a contested point that bracketing sucks ass. I can see where HT and other newer players might be coming from when the point that veterans have already been there, done that when it comes to additional slots; but I think it's less of a "well back in my day" sentiment and more of a "we did it back then, it still sucked, you can do it too ♥" sort of thing, if that makes sense. xD Even since the new system for obtaining (and keeping) slots came around, it was still never easy to do — and it's a major feat to get any slot, period!

Here is what I will say, as someone who has been active the past three years, accumulated 6 slots, went on hiatus, and now has to restart back at 1: also sucks ass, I'm not gonna lie. Lord, I will never miss this grind. My only suggestion regarding this would maybe be to have some sort of grace period for returning players to not immediately lose all of their slots if they go inactive — like if you returned >6 months after dropping everybody or something? — but I understand that this would just be another thing that the 'SA and mods have to keep track of when they're already doing a lot of that with every active player's character slots, cNPCs, puppies, etc. Just a thought, though! Earlier this year I could've have six characters and now I can currently only have one. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ But, I guess at the same time, I have to prove that I'm actually able to use all of those slots I got way back when. Idk!

Something else I think intimidates players about bracketing is, of course, the actual process of bracketing itself. I remember way back when, when I started shooting for an auxiliary, it was kind of an information overload and hell yeah it was scary and confusing. Luckily, I had another player give me a copy of their custom bracketing spreadsheet, and let me tell you, that it made ALL the difference — I have to remember that newer players probably don't have this resource and other tools that some of us have been using in the past! ;o Thankfully, Despi has made a version accessible to anyone looking to take on bracketing here, so I highly recommend anyone looking to bracket check this out because having something like this is honestly a gamechanger and takes out a lot of the guesswork.

Bracketing is hard — but some of the ambiguity can be cleared up and accounted for with the tools that the 'SA has given us and those that other players, who have done this same song and dance, have come up with to make the process easier. :>

re: Second Slot
Small point here, but I just wanna say that I like Song's idea of lowering the requirements for earning a second slot. I'm not sure if there was a reason specifically for 45 posts or if that was just what was agreed upon, but 30 does seem a little less... tedious? xD Idk, could just be me, but posting 45 times as the same character without change and having to have like a million threads is not as enjoyable to me rather than spreading those posts out across a larger roster. So getting to a second character faster, with like 1 post a day (if it got lowered to 30), would make that process a little more enjoyable to me.
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#23
Haha, it is my time to talk as a player and not staff, hello there.

Slots and Bracketing

I will tell everyone who wasn't around for it right now that before we had permanent character slots, it sucked real hard when it came time to swap characters around. Once you got up to the five-or-more region it became a huge deal when it came time to kill off or otherwise swap out characters because, as Song mentioned, rather than a two week wait without consequence, you still had to wait six weeks AND bracket again!! Imagine doing that every time you wanted to kill someone off, NPC, or send a character off-board. It was a nightmare!!

Right now, players have the freedom to basically go hard and then enjoy those rewards as long as they remain active.

For me, personally, this has been an exponential boon. I went through a period of low-muse/lack-of-time earlier this year and dropped from my full roster (10 characters!) down to half, and even then, still struggled with having some of these not show up on activity checks. That's a major factor I think players who don't have a large number of characters don't realize: it is very easy to burn out and need to shelve plots, especially when the unexpected (your plot partner goes inactive, you become ill, you suddenly change your mind) happens and your plans go haywire! Being able to drop, pause, and bring in a different character after two weeks is way nicer than needing to struggle through holding onto that dude because you're afraid to lose a slot.

As far as “bracketing” goes, I'll be honest and say I don't super like this term, but I get why it is in use. Our requirements are pretty low, especially once you hit a larger amount of characters. 7 posts every two weeks is not even a post a day – and if you're super feeling your character, and vibing in a good plot, you're likely to want to post more anyway! ;> The higher you go, the harder it can become: but that's why not everyone has 10 characters, and why the posting demands lessen for those higher slots.

Spreadsheets can help for sure. You can also manually count your posts if you need to, and tally them up as you go.

Inactive Members and their slots

So – look at our list of former players compared to active players. It is incredibly unrealistic for us to keep track of inactive members slots, and frankly, super unfair to active players.

We never know when players may or may not return. It could be weeks, or months, or years. Does it suck to quit and come back and realize you no longer have your earlier perks? Yeah, but that's what happens when you leave the game. A player who doesn't think they'll be gone forever could easily drop down to maintain one “active” character, post once a month, and retain their slots overall. Again, however, most people who leave or are caught up in sweeps do so because they lack the time needed to play.

As far as temp slots go, if you get enough slots, you basically can have this!! I set myself up for this so I would always have one “open” slot for throwaway baddies or minor plot characters. In the past, for multi-pack plots, we allowed a “temp slot” option for such a role. This is likely the only time this sort of thing would occur again.

NPCs

Let's do a little math! (boooooo)

At this moment, our largest back has 35 active characters. Let's assume they have the maximum number of pNPCs (10) allowed. Now let's assume every character in the pack has a cNPC (another 35). Well hey now, some of these characters just had puppies! Let's assume that idk, five couples have two puppies each (10).

That pack now has 90 characters present. That's HUGE!

So imagine now if we doubled up your cNPC allowance – now you've got 125 characters!! In one pack!!!

Lex Luthor style math problems aside, cNPCs – and NPCs in general – often get overlooked or, at worst, turned into service/item devices versus active, fleshed out use. The reason cNPCs are limited is the same reason puppies are limited: because too many floods the forum, and makes things complicated and unrealistic.

On that note, pNPCs are a boon you can use with your PCs!!!! If you need something to help spur a plot along, use a pNPC! I bet your pack leader would be so excited to hear your idea!!

I will say, I do agree that limiting minor NPCs isn't a bad thing, and would agree with restricting these for all characters, not just loners.

Creatures

I have played a creature, so my perspective on this is coming from that role. Basically, it was for fun – as a writer, I wanted to explore a non-Luperci option. Would I do it as a main character? Absolutely not. But this is a werewolf RPG, so you should play a werewolf anyway! ;> The option remains for players who want to fool around, and this is where those forever-slots come in handy. You can play a bird for a month, get bored, and then have it fly away – and two weeks later, bam, new character!

OVERALL

It is neat to hear what newer players think about things! As a senior player, I've been around for a lot of rule changes, but think right now we're at a really good place as far as these go. It is the culmination of over 20 years of experience and trial-and-error. Generally, if we change things, it's going to be to help the game or put in boundaries to stop the abuse of something or another.

We (the 'SA) will look over all this and talk about your opinions, but please trust that whatever decisions we make for the game are done in its best interest. :>
“History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” ― Mark Twain
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#24
For NPCs, is the numbers the only problem we have to worry about? If so, could this be fixed by having 1 cNPC slot, 1 yNPC slot, and 1 flexible slot that can be either cNPC or yNPC and not both at once?

(Also, I know I kinda said it but just to note it, if character deaths counted as a drop for additional character slots, I wouldn't actually prefer the older system any more over what we have now xD)



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#25
Just popping in extremely briefly to say that, as a player who's been here for 12 years, the old way of bracketing sucked and was absolute hell.

Echoing Songbird and Mel, losing your character slot because of RL or muse or plot troubles, or even a character death and then having to re-bracket every single time was a lot worse than what it is now when you can just post a little notice in the drop/npc thread and then in 2 weeks can have another character filling that space is unarguably so much better in my opinion. It gives room for a lot more flexibility in plots/picking characters up for short term/small plots.

I currently have 8 character slots, and I have worked my absolute ass off to get those 8 slots which were gained both post and pre permanent slots, and the idea that if my RL falls into an absolute hole and i can just shelve 7 characters and then post only once a month to keep all of them honestly feels like a gift comparative (and yes, again echoing Mel, I have done that in the past, several times since the permanent slots began) to the old system where you just... lost everything and had to start again from scratch (which I have also done)

When the idea was unveiled, after a lot of discussion, Souls Board at the time of the question of slot permanence chose an extra 2 weeks of posts to gain the objectively better system of having to bracket once and once only for a slot unless through your own inactivity you lose it.
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#26
All of the discussion in here is interesting! As someone who's been around (if not consecutively active) for a decade, I could also chime in with "it used to be worse!" -- but that doesn't mean that things can't be better than they are now. :> Newbies don't have old policies to compare the new to, so they can't "be grateful," and I think it's important for veterans to take that into account. It's also important for newer players to understand the why behind these policies, too, and I know that isn't always visible unless they dig into site history.

Additional Characters

I don't necessarily have any suggestions, just kinda rambling with some questions and things to consider?

"Bracketing" is a relatively new thing. Keeping track of brackets via spreadsheets and attempting to spree to "catch up" and panicking about counts can definitely lead to anxiety and burnout, and I understand the "cramming" metaphor. At lower character numbers, I agree that if you're struggling to keep that activity, you might not be ready to keep another character active (to a certain standard of active).

However, 14 posts per character for a month is considered "high" activity according to many pack rank promotion requirements (both current and historically). It could be argued that doing one post every other day per character isn't that much, but if you have multiple characters, that can mean doing 1-2 posts every single day OR doing many more in the days you have time to post. If you have four characters, you need to make 56 posts/month to reach "Average" brackets.

Which, as related to some discussion in the main Discord today about the pace of 'Souls, leads to the question -- how active do we expect our players to be? Should slot requests reflect that number, or should they require "above and beyond" activity? Eta: "Above and beyond" makes sense if evaluating whether a player can handle their current activity load plus a new character's posts though.

Another thing that I wonder -- given easier to attain slots, would most players self-regulate the number of characters they have (as Mandi mentioned, filing only 4/7 slots herself), or would they bite off more than they could chew?

This isn't necessarily a request that things be changed, but I know that even slots were a debate when the idea was introduced, and I think it's healthy to consider the reason behind why things are done the way they are.

Secondary Characters

I am pro- "reduce requirement for secondaries" just so players (including returning members, who feel that ache of losing their slots) can jump into the game faster and get more involved right away.

Everything Else

I like most of the site's policies lol. Many of them are meant to prevent abuse (like constant character swapping and unrealistically deep trespassing) or things like having vast amounts of unplayed puppies (I want to echo all of Song's points on this one). Even like Mel said, more permanent NPCs means an unrealistically high number of characters in packs. (Though if people want an "extra" NPC or two for a personal plot, keep in mind temporary NPCs are a thing!)
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#27
(23 October 2022, 01:05 PM)Hydra Triangle Wrote: For NPCs, is the numbers the only problem we have to worry about? If so, could this be fixed by having 1 cNPC slot, 1 yNPC slot, and 1 flexible slot that can be either cNPC or yNPC and not both at once?

yNPC's are not a slot per se; they're basically whatever you've earned based on the puppy request. Like, I had 3 yNPCs with Kalypso's last litter and their yNPC status wasn't gone until 2 years old if they weren't adopted out. They're earned, so it's a slightly different permissions mechanic compared to the automatically allowed cNPC.
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#28
Thanks for the information Gen!

Re: Additional Characters
again, my stance has changed over these past few days due to the discussion not just here but in the main discord chat. I feel a lot of negativity that I had, and probably some other players too, was due to misunderstanding of the current system. This thread has helped a lot in communicating more clearly the system that is currently in place - and I also noticed changes were made to the Requests wiki page, which I personally found helpful. As well as this, Despi released a bracketing spreadsheet resource which was also extremely helpful!

Overall, I feel communication instead of change may be what was needed, and I believe our discussion so far contributed a lot in this manner. So I'm feeling more positively now!

However!! Onto other things!

I do notice that there seems to be little push back regarding these suggestions:
  • Lowering the requirement for a secondary slot to 30 posts instead of 45
  • Clarifying restrictions on mNPCs
I guess my question is, on the second one, what kind of clarification are we looking for?

Personally, I think a way to go about it might just be general ballpark for common mNPC types? Such as "We want to see individual characters with roughly no more than 3 large hoofstock",etc.



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#29
Just in case you didn’t see it before, Hydra Triangle, if you kill off a character, that counts as a “drop.” You don’t lose your slot. You only lose slots due to inactivity.


Re: NPCs;
I'll pipe up and say that I really don't want more rules and restrictions on any NPCs; cNPCs, yNPCs, tNPCs, pNPCs, communal animal NPCs, or minor (pet) NPCs. The restrictions and rules are already pretty limiting on all of these, please don't tempt things to make us end up with less than we already have or more regulations on them ;___; The more y’all add, the less we as a whole (regardless of whether you, personally, use NPCs or not) can play with and the more limitations y’all put on creative writing on ‘Souls.


What’s so wrong with just allowing players to have as many characters they want for free?
Honestly, the work on the backend for Staff and Pack Leadership.

  • To ensure that our site stays active and does not stagnate, we have activity requirements. These Activity Sweeps are run on the 1st and 15th of every month. Most sweeps have upwards of 10-25 characters per sweep depending on the month, leading to Staff and Pack Leadership to have to send out PMs for anywhere between 1-10+ characters that are in danger of being removed due to inactivity. When the sweep ends, ‘SA has to remove those characters from play, which means changing permissions and removing them from our records of active characters per player. Pack Leadership has to adjust various areas on their wikis to notate aNPC’d or removed characters. If the forum allowed an unlimited number of character slots for free, these Activity Sweeps could possibly balloon to be 50+ characters per sweep, twice a month. That’s a shit ton of work for Staff and Pack Leadership for something that, at the end of the day is a hobby.

  • Backend work aside, RPG sites I’ve been on in the past that allow unlimited character slots typically end up with characters that are created on a whim and forgotten. Players create characters on a knee-jerk decision, and then quickly discard them after the novelty of the idea wears off. This can lead to players constantly and recklessly cycling through characters, leaving RP partners frustrated. Having additional character slots be “earned”, to me, helps makes players focus more on actually developing a character rather than just creating a throwaway. They can still do that presently, of course, if they have the open slots for it, but, I think the slots do help lessen or slow that at the very least.

Re: Bracketing;
Just to clarify since it seems I’ve accidentally stirred a “New/Returning Players vs. Veterans” issue. I, and every player on ‘Souls, I’m sure, 100% agrees that bracketing sucks, and it sucks now just like it has in the past. I know new/returning players find it frustrating and some even balk at what they have to do to unlock slots when they have characters/ideas they want to explore now. I understand that it feels “unfair” that new/returning players have “fewer” slots and that older players may have 4+ slots, and “older players don’t have to worry about any of this stuff anymore because they have all the slots they want, so, their opinion really falls on deaf ears.” The thing is, those older players have already gone through the bracket hell. They wanted more character slots, so they worked for it. They’ve been around for a hot minute. They “did their time,” and, if anything, the older players know first hand that “yeah, bracketing sucks lol.” So, with that in mind, nobody is saying that bracketing isn’t difficult or hard.

In an effort for the frustrated players to not feel just brushed aside, I’ll be transparent and say that slot/puppy point requests, in the end, fall on staff’s opinion when we rate your brackets at the time of your request. We vote based on your numbers and how each of your brackets look. If we see that you put out minimal effort, we’re not going to “reward” you for it.

  • If you have only 2 characters, and make only 3 posts per 2-week bracket per character, you’re only making 6 posts a month on one character, 12 posts in the entire 2-month span. Your numbers show that you’re barely chugging along. In most packs, you’re barely making enough posts to maintain your current rank. If you’re already struggling with two characters, why would you want to add a third?

  • If you have 5 characters and you’re making 5 posts per 2-week bracket per character, you’re making 10 posts a month on one character, 50 posts across all characters that month. 5 characters is teetering into the higher character bracket, so, to be transparent, there is more debate between staff on what is approved or denied at these higher levels. We understand that these are higher character loads. And, as I said before in my previous posts, staff is more lenient when it comes to higher character slot requests because we understand that you’re posting across more characters. We don’t expect you to get 10+ posts per bracket. Honestly, we’re satisfied if you even get 7+ when it comes to some of these character slots. As I said before, we don’t expect perfection, but we expect for you to actually make an effort if you want this optional additional slot.
If you have fewer characters, of course, we’re going to expect “more” from you. 7 posts per 2-week bracket when you only have 2 characters to play with is, my opinion, acceptable. All you have to do is 3-4 posts per week, or 7 posts on one character one week, and 7 on the other the next. You only have 2 characters.

The 3-4 character range can be a bit rocky, but, again, these brackets are voted on by people, not a robot. And, again, to be transparent, as long as you don’t have Inactives or Dismals, or have very minimal Poors, you’re usually okay anyways. Staff isn’t asking anyone to be a super star. Staff isn’t asking anyone to go above and beyond. If you do, great. If you don’t, and you’re more “average,” that’s fine, it’s called “average” for a reason.

====

So, with keeping all of that in mind on the backend process and why I personally don’t agree with lowering any present standards re: bracketing…

My Suggestions in Regards to Changes to Character Slots:

In an effort to be open-minded and see things from both sides, below are what my ideas for suggested ways to change the current system:

  • Reduce Costs on Unlocking Secondary Character.
    Change requirements to be 30 posts and 4-weeks since joining the forum.

    Present requirement is 45 posts, which, I agree, feels like a rather random number to throw out there. My reduced suggestion of 30 posts instead would make it so that players essentially only have to post once a day for an entire month. This allows Staff, Pack Leadership, and Players to still get a good grasp on a new/returning player and how well they understand ‘Souls’ game. This allows new/returning players to pick up additional characters sooner, thus, can lower burnout, and allow them to possibly become more integrated into the game at a faster rate.

  • Allow players to Unlock a Tertiary Character without having to bracket for them.
    Requirements to unlock Character Slot 3 could be: 60 total posts since joining and 4 additional weeks since filling Character Slot 2. Players must wait 6 weeks after filling Character Slot 3 to request for Character Slot 4.

    3 character slots, I feel, is more than enough for a player to both be active and have a more expansive field to play in on the forum, as well as to decide if they want to stick around ‘Souls, or, if they want to play even more characters. After those 3 free slots though, players would be required to bracket to open up any additional character slots. My suggestion to up it to the current 6-week wait between Character Slot 3 and 4 is so there’s no new things for current players to re-learn (and so there are minimal changes made to various other procedural areas xD)

    In an effort to keep like-numbers attached with similar things, I suggest only an additional 4-week wait. This way, both free slots would require the same number of weeks between each fill in. At an additional 4-weeks of time, at minimum, new/returning players would have been on the forum for 8 weeks, or 2 whole months. I think 2 months allows new/returning players to have a good gauge on whether they want to stay on ‘Souls, and, at that point, obtaining a third character can allow them to feel like they have the same benefits as older/“veteran” players because they can have that “spare” slot to use, or, can just feel better about having more options for creative play.

    My suggestion for submitting evidence proving the post count requirement could be done by simply linking the character accounts they used to obtain that, and listing how many posts they made with that character. I suggest this because players could switch out characters before they actually get to a point where they’re ready for a third. So, they might end up with 40 posts on Wolf, 5 posts on Coyote before they dropped them, and then 15 posts on Dog who they picked up thereafter.

    I threw out 60 posts for a number because, eh, you already have to meet 30 posts to unlock Character Slot 2. An additional 30 posts to unlock Character Slot 3 (split between two characters) shouldn’t be too much to ask for.

  • Shift leniency for additional character slots.
    I suggest the above, however, with a price to be paid later on. By lowering the Secondary Character requirements and the allowance for a Third (free) Character slot, I think it’s fair for staff to have less leniency on requests for additional character slots.

    Where before, staff might have hand-waved and accepted a slot request that had 3 “Poor” bracket ratings for a request for a 4th character slot, now, we’ll be more likely to auto-deny the request based on those being present. Essentially, where there is a “get,” there needs to also be a “give” somewhere. You can have more instant-gratification early on, however, the cost is staff not allowing as many grey areas in character slot requests as we might have previously.

    Additional slots are optional, after all.
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#30
(23 October 2022, 07:02 PM)Songbird Wrote: Just to clarify since it seems I’ve accidentally stirred a “New/Returning Players vs. Veterans” issue.
In case I was contributing to this, to clarify -- my bringing it up is just a reminder that newcomers don't have the past procedures to compare the current ones to, they just see the procedures as they are, which is why I believe there was confusion about why things are the way they are. But it's good to see misconceptions being addressed and that this is more of a problem of understanding the system than the system itself. I know many people had a lot of good to say about the recent clarifications made on the Requests page on the wiki! :>

(23 October 2022, 07:02 PM)Songbird Wrote: Allow players to Unlock a Tertiary Character without having to bracket for them.
I don't have anything clever to say/add to this, but I think this is an interesting suggestion! :O Three is a pretty solid amount, and without looking at literally any numbers lmao I feel that it's pretty "average" to have 3-5 at most if you aren't one of the "over-achievers" (said affectionately, as a former over-achiever), so that'll get players either where they wanna be or closer to that goal. And I think that being less lenient (not allowing "poor" brackets for requests) is a good trade-off.

I feel like the procedure for "proving" they've earned those slots might be a bit of work, but I don't have any alternative ideas. I think stating how many posts a character has upon joining might be useful though, so that it's a matter of cross-referencing their current post count vs the one they joined with, rather than having to manually count. :O
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